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Trotz on Caps' third periods: 'We just got to lock it down a little bit better'

Trotz on Caps' third periods: 'We just got to lock it down a little bit better'

The Capitals were in complete control—and up three goals—after Alex Ovechkin completed his 16th career hat trick about seven minutes into the third period on Wednesday night.

Then things got way too close for comfort.

The Blues scored twice in the final 1:15, capitalizing on a power play and an extra attacker situation. And the Capitals, once again, found themselves hanging on.

Ovechkin and Co. ultimately walked away with a 4-3 victory over a surging St. Louis team that was playing its second game in as many nights.

But Washington’s coaches and players agreed afterward that they’ve experienced a few too many “cheap lessons” in recent weeks. 

“A couple of guys mentioned it [and] we just got to lock it down a little bit better,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “We haven’t done that.”

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Earlier this season, the Capitals ranked among the stingiest teams in the third period. Now they’re 15th after an uneven November in which they’ve yielded a third period goal in 10 out of 11 games and 15 third period goals in total.

Although the Capitals went 7-3-1 in those games, Trotz said the need for stronger, more complete third periods will be addressed when the team reconvenes Friday after getting a day off for Thanksgiving.   

“Our third periods have been strong the last couple of years,” Trotz said. “I wouldn’t say they are our strength right now. So that is something that we are going to address. …I thought [Wednesday’s] game should have stayed 4-1; I would have been a lot more happy. But two points against a very good team in St. Louis, we’ll take that any day of the week.”

The Blues’ near comeback began when Lars Eller was whistled for tripping with 2:40 left to play. It was Eller’s team-leading ninth minor penalty of the season.

Alex Pietrangelo struck on the ensuing power play to make it 4-2 with 1:15 remaining. Then, with goalie Carter Hutton on the bench, Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 29 seconds left to make it 4-3—and keep the Verizon Center faithful on the edge of their seats.

Thanks in part to a couple of late faceoff wins by Jay Beagle, though, the Capitals managed to avoid a calamity. That said, goalie Braden Holtby also knows there’s work to be done.

“It kinda turned with 10 minutes left in the game when we stopped moving our feet and got a few penalties against us,” Holtby said, referring to the holding penalty on Andre Burakovsky and tripping foul on Eller. “Ultimately it made the game too close. It’s something we need to get better at. It’s a win, but there’s a lot to learn from this one.”

Holtby added: “It definitely is [a cheap lesson]. The most frustrating part is we’ve done it a few times this year. And once happens a few times, it’s a habit. It’s something we need to address and get better at and try and clamp down in third periods. But a win is a win and we’ll learn from it and move on.”

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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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